Statement of Marc H. Morial (President and CEO of the National Urban League) before the House Judiciary Committee on “Policing Strategies for the 21st Century”
(May 19, 2015)
Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers and members of the Committee, on behalf of the National Urban League, thank you for holding this most urgent hearing on policing in the 21st Century. I am Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans. It is my hope and expectation that this hearing will mark the first concrete and immediate step in a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to bring about historic change in the tragic breakdown of police-community relations in our nation – particularly in communities of color.
Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, now is the time to get it right – we cannot piecemeal our way to reforming our system of policing across the country. Instead, we must take a comprehensive and bold approach that is multi-faceted and simultaneous, for our urban communities are in a state of crisis with life-and-death consequences for unarmed African American men and women in their community interactions with law enforcement, and serious consequences also for the police as well.
A tragic déjà vu continues to play out in communities all across America, particularly in the growingly skeptical streets of Black and Brown neighborhoods. Our nation is forced to grapple with fresh accounts of police misconduct in its deadliest incarnation where the victims are unarmed Black men and womeni and the perpetrators are the very public servants charged with keeping them—in fact, all of us—safe; it seems only the states and the circumstances change. The recent litany of cases involving the use of excessive, and deadly, police force against unarmed African Americans is only the tip of the iceberg:
- Freddie Gray (age 25) – Baltimore, MD
- Walter Scott (age 50) – North Charleston, SC
- Tamir Rice (age 12) – Cleveland, OH
- Akai Gurley (age 28) – Brooklyn, NY
- Michael Brown (age 18) – Ferguson, MO
- John Crawford III (age 22) – Beavercreek, OH
- Eric Garner (age 43) – Staten Island, NY
- Marlene Pinnock (age 51) – Interstate 10, homeless, Los Angeles area, CA
- Trayvon Martin (age 17) – Miami Gardens, FL